CLOUD-MAP: Helping to Pave the Way_ Towards a 3D Mesonet in Oklahoma and Beyond

Dr. Phillip Chilson and Dr. Jamey Jacob

Phillip Chilson, Professor of Meteorology, Director of Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling, School of Meteorology & Advanced Radar Research Center.

Jamey Jacob, John Hendrix Chair and Professor of Aerospace Engineering,Director of Unmanned Systems Research Institute,School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Oklahoma State University

15 November 2016, 4:00 PM

National Weather Center, Room 1313
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

CLOUD-MAP (Collaboration Leading Operational UAS Development for Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics) is a four year, four university partnership aimed at developing capabilities that will allow meteorologists and atmospheric scientists to use unmanned aircraft as tools for both targeted and operational observations in the atmosphere. Due to the atmospheric boundary layer’s (ABL) proximity to the ground and its transient nature, current technologies have severe limitations in providing detailed measurements in this layer of the atmosphere: manned aircraft are too dangerous or expensive to fly near the ground; radar cannot see over the horizon and do not measure all of the important thermodynamic parameters forecasters need; and weather balloons have too short of a duration at low altitudes to provide useful information, especially during transient events such as severe storms or during the passage of fronts or dry lines. Small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) are particularly well suited for studies of the lower atmosphere, however, particularly the lower ABL. Currently such systems are used for meteorological measurements, but they are far from being practical or robust at this point for regular field diagnostics by meteorologists or atmospheric scientists. The project goals for CLOUD-MAP cover a wide range of research objectives, but here we consider one aspect of the project - the development of a “3D Mesonet” system, which would extend measurements from the Oklahoma Mesonet vertically using SUAS collocated at the observing towers. The SUAS would provide scheduled profiles in the lower atmosphere of such parameters as pressure, temperature, humidity, and velocity. The concept of the 3D Mesonet allows for eventual unattended operations of the SUAS across Oklahoma and could be expanded to include other states. Data from the 3D Mesonet are expected to lead to an improved understanding of ABL processes and help improve forecast accuracy in the near future. We provide an overview of 3D Mesonet concept and its current state of development, including testing.

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